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«Delivered to | Northern Communications Information Systems Working Group c/o Government of Yukon Delivered by | Nordicity Date | Foreword The Project ...»

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To establish a dataset for this benchmarking exercise, we compiled a list of northern Canadian communities from Statistics Canada’s Geosuite 2011 database with inputs from the Canada Revenue Agency’s Prescribed Zones for Northern Residents Deductions. We then screened our resulting database of northern communities on the basis of the following benchmarking framework. To be admitted as a data point in the benchmarking exercise, each community had

to have identifable (advertised) price information for three components:

1. A residential wire line service with/without long distance;

2. Cellular voice with/without a 1 Gigabyte (GB) data plan; and,

3. Residential high-speed Internet access ≥ 1500/384 Kbps (download/upload speeds).

Each component is defned in the ‘National Benchmarking’ section of Appendix 2 – Detailed Recommended Goals and Standards. The intention of using these components was to capture data points that were broadly comparable across Canada’s northern regions. This approach thus limits our scope, and does not include analyses of bundled services (such as cable, telephone, and internet) or special sales rates that telecom service providers may periodically ofer at their discretion. This exercise is also limited to advertised pricing and service details. Due to resource limitations we could not test actual service oferings with consumer devices. The benchmarking data are thus intended to be proxy indicators of service quality. Aspects such as average advertised data transfer rates for mobile and high speed Internet (e.g., download/upload speeds) should therefore be interpreted as ceiling estimates.

The result of our data gathering is a database of basic service baskets for 399 Northern census units ranging from tiny hamlets to villages, towns, and cities. The basic service basket for each census unit summarizes the total cost of the three components advertised at each census unit e.g., 1) a residential wire line service with long distance, 2) a basic cellular voice plan, and 3) a residential high speed Internet plan ≥ 1500/384 Kbps. Moreover, for 82% of the database we also acquired data for higher tier service baskets that replace basic cellular voice with a cellular Wall Communications. (2013). “Price Comparisons of Wire line, Wireless and Internet Services in Canada and with Foreign Jurisdictions”. Accessed September 11, 2013 from: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/publications/reports/rp130422.pdf plan that includes 1 GB data. The table below summarizes the distribution of our fnal purposive sample for this Northern Canadian benchmarking exercise.

Table : Distribution of Northern Canadian Benchmarking Data Set2

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The following sections summarize our fndings for the individual benchmarking components.

Defnitions, tables and additional details are included in Appendix 2.

Residential Wire line Service Our benchmark for residential wire line or home telephone service includes a local calling and long distance calling component. The northern provincial average cost of a home telephone service with local calling was $28.28 per month. In the Territories this rate increased to $32.37 per month. In terms of our benchmark’s long distance calling component, for the Territories we utilized NorthwesTel’s Freedom 400 plan, which ofered 400 North American long distance minutes for a monthly fee of $22.95. Compared to NorthwesTel’s Freedom 400 plan, 65% of northern provincial locations had access to unlimited North American calling for less than $30 per month. The average for northern provincial locations without unlimited North America plans was 983 minutes at $27.63 per month. By comparison, the territorial Freedom 400 plan ofers 41% fewer minutes at a monthly fee that is about 16.9% less.

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Cellular Voice With/Without a 1GB Data Plan The benchmark for cellular services in northern Canada compares basic voice plans (at 200 – 250 anytime local calling minutes) and higher tier packages that include voice with a 1 GB data service. In terms of basic voice plans, the Yukon average was $30 per month. By comparison, the Northwest Territories average was $0.79 more per month due to higher service charges where Ice Wireless was the sole provider. In Nunavut the average climbed to $35.45 per month due to higher service charges where Lynx Mobility was the sole provider. By comparison, the average basic voice plan for northern provincial locations cost $32.78 per month.

In terms of higher tier voice with 1 GB data plans, the average northern provincial location paid $65.94 per month with an average data download speed of 5200 Kbps. By comparison, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories averages were at least 21% faster than the pan-provincial average for $0.94 less per month. The best 1 GB data plan for Yukon and Northwest Territories, from Bell Mobility, also included unlimited local anytime calling minutes. In sharp contrast, Nunavut’s mobile data services were limited to Enhanced Voice-Data Optimized (EVDO) based technology (≤ 2000 Kbps), and its cheapest plan ≥ 1 GB of monthly data cost $5 more than the average plans for Yukon and the Northwest Territories ($70 versus $65 per month).

2 Based on a sample of 350 northern provincial locations.

2 Based on a sample of 122 northern provincial locations where unlimited long-distance calling was not an identifable consumer option.

Table 1 : Basic Cellular Voice and Voice with 1 GB Data Plans 3132333435363738

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Residential High Speed Internet (≥ 1500/384 Kbps)3940 The benchmark for residential high speed Internet compared the lowest cost packages advertised to northern residents at ≥ 1500/384 Kbps. In the Yukon and Northwest Territories, subscribers with cable access have twice the advertised data downlink speed than those on Based on a sample of 302 northern provincial locations where ≥HSPA mobile data service was an identifable consumer option.

Ba ed on a sample of 49 pan-territorial locations

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3 Based on a sample of 11 Nunavut locations Based on a sample of 5 Nunavut locations where EVDO was an identifable data standard for available mobile data plans.

≥HSPA is currently unavailable in Nunavut.

Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), the second fastest lowest cost service ≥ 1500/384 Kbps available (5000 versus 2500 Kbps). At the time of this study cable access in the Territories was limited to Whitehorse and Carcross (Yukon), and Yellowknife, Fort Smith, and Norman Wells (Northwest Territories). Among the Territories the greater availability of cable in the Northwest Territories also explains its higher average download speed (2900 Kbps), compared to Yukon (2800 Kbps) and Nunavut (1500 Kbps). The northern provincial average slightly outperformed the Northwest Territories average on upload speeds, but was slightly slower on downloads (2800/590 versus 2900/384 Kbps) at an average price that was $10 less per month. By contrast, Nunavut’s average service cost $25 more than the northern provincial average for almost half the download speed. Moreover, to achieve a data transfer rate comparable to the pan-territorial average of 2500 Kbps a Nunavut resident would have to pay $369.95 per month on the Qiniq network, or, provided they lived in select communities such as Iqaluit, $129.95 per month on the NorthwesTel network.

Table 1 : Lowest Cost High Speed Internet Packages (≥ 1500/384 kbps)4142434445

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Total Costs for Personal Telecommunications and High Speed Internet in the Territories and Northern Provincial Regions In terms of assessing total costs for personal telecommunications and high speed Internet, the results from the benchmarking components, discussed above, were combined into two baskets, where the distinguishing factors between baskets are basic versus higher tier cellular services. The frst basket includes a basic cellular voice plan without a 1 GB data service, while the second basket compares total costs based on higher tier cellular voice with 1 GB data. All three Territories registered higher-cost baskets than the northern provincial average for both cellular Based on a sample of 11 Nunavut locations service benchmarks. Yukon paid 9.5% more than the northern provincial average for the basic voice basket and 8.8% more on average for the voice/1 GB data basket. By comparison, NWT paid 9.5% more on average for the basic voice basket and 8.2% more on average for the voice/1 GB data4 basket. The highest-cost region for consumers was Nunavut, where a basic voice basket cost, on average, 24.8% more per month than the northern provincial average, while a voice/1 GB data4 basket cost, on average, 20.6% more per month.

Table 1 : Total Costs for Personal Telecommunications and High Speed Internet

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Caps Northern service providers have taken diferent approaches to limiting consumer data usage.

The most restrictive data caps apply to satellite served communities. For example, in Nunavut Qiniq’s current 1500/384 Kbps satellite-based service (wireless over C-band) under SSi Micro caps data usage at 10 GB per month. By comparison, NorthwesTel’s 1500/384 Kbps Nunavut 1 service ofering caps data usage at 15 GB per month. Qiniq’s policy has been to throttle services once usage caps are exceeded – (with additional GB sold for $17.50), while NorthwesTel automatically charges an overage fee of $17.50 per GB (compared with $5 per GB for cable and ADSL services on its terrestrial-backhauled networks). Territorial government and civil society stakeholders have expressed concern about Northern data caps and overage fees. According to CRTC’s 2012 Communications Monitoring Report, it would take approximately 13 hours of High Defnition YouTube video footage (running at 1500/17 Kbps) to exhaust a 20 GB usage cap. By comparison, Based on EVDO technology which has lower capacity than HSPA a Skype audio-only conversation (running at 42/42 Kbps) would exhaust 20 GB in approximately 563 hours. Obviously, how rapidly a user exhausts his or her data cap can individually vary, yet there is reason to believe that 10 and 15 GB caps are inadequate for the average Canadian consumer. In its 2012 report, CRTC noted that the average gigabytes downloaded per month per residential subscriber was 17.9 GB of data per month, based on a weighted mean of data from Canada’s fve largest high-speed Internet service providers.


Extensive research on broadband connectivity initiatives in similar regions globally was undertaken to help estimate the costs of enhancing broadband connectivity in the three Territories. Four nearest matches were selected and two jurisdictions – Australia and Alaska – stood out in terms of their match to the three Territories’ geographical and population distribution, and in terms of the lessons that can be drawn from their experience.



3.1 Finland In December 2008, the Finnish government adopted an ambitious national broadband plan for 2009-2015 which sought to guarantee that all Finnish households and businesses would have a minimum service level of 1 Mbps by 2010, increasing to 100 Mbps by 2015. In reality however, rollout of Finland’s ambitious plan has been fraught with difculty.

The current communications infrastructure in Finland has been increasingly characterized by fxed-to-mobile substitution. In 2009, Finland achieved the highest mobile broadband penetration in the European Union (‘EU’). Each year thereafter, the traditional fxed broadband market continued to shrink resulting in much higher subscription prices for fxed services in Finland than in the other EU member states.

Currently available statistics reveal that about half of all Finns have access to a 100 Mbps connection to their door. Of that 50%, 40% are served via cable modem and the remaining 10% are served via Fibre-to-the-home (‘FTTH’). These fndings reveal that only a very small proportion of Finns actually pay for 100 Mbps though fbre networks.

Alarmed by this statistic, the Finnish government took steps to ensure that the ‘100 Mbps by 2015’ target will be accomplished on the supplier side, given the relatively low demand by Finnish citizens for such speeds. The Finnish government announced that it would contribute a 67% government subsidy for telecommunications operators to develop 100 Mbps network infrastructure. One media article reported that not even one of the three major Finnish telecommunications operators could be drawn in by such a subsidy; instead most of the money has been claimed by newly formed local cooperatives and smaller operators 4 This is because, rather than opting to lay fbre optic cable, operators are choosing to deploy more proftable wireless broadband service in un-served or under-served areas. The case in Finland is similar to what was observed in the United States with the Federal Communications Commission’s (the ‘FCC’) ‘Connect America Fund’ which was designed to give telephone companies signifcant subsidies to expand their broadband services to under-served areas. Two of America’s biggest operators – Verizon and AT&T – declined all the funding they had been ofered, to focus on more proftable wireless services like LTE.




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